This may seem simple, but you need to give customers what they want, not what you think they want. And, if you do this, people will keep coming back.” – John Ilhan 

At last year’s ETR/AWAI Bootcamp, I was chatting with Michael Masterson before we were to give a presentation together. We were talking about what motivates people to buy the kind of programs that ETR and AWAI market.

“People, especially as the years pass, don’t just care about becoming a millionaire or making six figures,” he said. “What they are after most,” said Michael, “is a certain kind of lifestyle… and living that life on their own terms. Money for them is mostly a means to that end.”

I am convinced he is right, and marketers who simplistically trumpet “get rich” in their ads are making a mistake. Instead of selling the obvious benefit, they could be reaching their prospects on a deeper and more powerful level.

I saw this principle in action in a series of TV commercials for ITT Tech, an institute offering career training for adults.

In the old days, ads for career-training places implied that if you took their program you’d make a lot of money.

One of my clients in the career-training field back then ran an ad featuring a student standing proudly next to his new Jaguar. What the ad failed to mention was that he bought the Jaguar with money he won in a personal injury lawsuit, not with money he earned as a result of his training.

Anyway, the new ITT Tech ads are different. They feature interviews with students who graduated and are now gainfully employed. But they don’t talk about money.

One of the graduates talks about how proud his kids are to see him put on a suit and tie and go to work every day. Another one talks about the overseas business trips his company sends him on, and says how he loves to travel, try new foods, see different cultures, and meet new people on the job. He says nothing about money. His mother is in the commercial, too, saying how proud she is of her son.

I have coined a name for this type of marketing. I call it “lifestyle promotion.”

The marketing for the ROM Cross Trainer is an excellent example. The machine looks something like Santa’s sleigh. It costs $14,615. The ad claims it can get you fit in only four minutes a day. And the company has been selling them since 1990.

Given the $14,615 purchase price, I’m guessing the target market for this product is upper-middle-class people earning six-figure incomes. They want to look and feel better, tone their bodies, and lose weight. They are told by doctors and trainers to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes – maybe even an hour – anywhere from three to seven days a week.

But these are busy people. “I don’t have time to exercise!” they say. So the ROM Cross Trainer is the perfect fitness solution for them: You can get all the exercise you need – a complete workout – in just four minutes a day!

Plus, for many of them, time is money. For an executive or entrepreneur whose time is worth, say, $100 an hour, the ROM Cross Trainer is, again, the perfect fitness solution. By cutting his exercise time by five hours a week, it will pay for itself in less than eight months – making it a good investment instead of an expense.

Instead of taking time out of your day to train at the gym, your daily exercise routine is over in less than five minutes – without leaving your home or office. Instead of going to work out at night, you can get home at a reasonable hour and have dinner with your spouse and kids.

It’s all about lifestyle.

Lifestyle promotions can be written for almost any product and any market. But I find they work best with “lifestyle products” that have been “reverse engineered.” In other words, instead of starting with the product, you start with the lifestyle desired by your target market. Then you design a product that helps them achieve it.

You can even write the lifestyle promotion first, creating copy you are confident will sell like gangbusters. Then you design a product that delivers on the promises in the copy.

MP, a copywriter, tells the story of how he was hired to write a direct-mail package to sell a book on decorating. As MP tells it, when he handed in his copy, the marketing director told him, “It’s great – but the book doesn’t fit what you’ve written.”

MP swears the publisher had the author totally rewrite the book to fit his promotion. (And it was a big success.)

[Ed Note: Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter, the author of more than 70 books, and co-creator of ETR’s Direct Marketing Masters Edition program.

Sign up for Bob’s free monthly e-zine, The Direct Response Letter, and get more than $100 in free bonuses.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.